Ok, I think we just ate one of the best restaurant meals of our lives last Monday night!!! We have wanted to eat in Locatelli’s for so long and were worried that we had built it up too high and that we were going to be seriously disappointed but I’m happy to report it was everything and more!! We had booked about a month in advance but still could only get a table at 9.45pm on a Monday night but we had eaten so much that day trying out every cuisine possible in London it was just as well. We actually ended up being late(what’s new) as we never checked where the restaurant actually was and jumped into a taxi outside the hotel presuming he knew where he was going but of course we would jump into a cab with the craziest taxi driver in London who headed off towards Covent Garden which was the completely wrong direction. My sister questioned him and he then realised where it was and it turned out to be a 2 minute walk around the corner from the hotel, he thought it was the funniest thing ever but still charged us £3 for our 10 min detour:) It’s basically situated at the top of Oxford St at Marble Arch so it’s only a 5 min walk from the tube station.
On arrival we were greeted with a lot of “buona sera” from the “all” Italian staff which really gives it a very welcoming feel and an air of authenticity even though it is a very modern contemporary restaurant – no red and white check table cloths here:) Throughout the meal the staff speak Italian (buon appetito, grazie, prego) which I love as you feel you could be eating anywhere in Italy! The one thing that really struck me was how unpretentious the place was, it has a very relaxed feel to it and there was a great atmosphere, the room was buzzing with chat. I love the decor of the room, warm creams and beiges, crisp white tablecloths, soft lighting and although there was no music it wasn’t an issue. The service is excellent and very professional, I was amazed at how many staff there were and of course my business brain was totting up how much it costs to run a place like this, actually my brain didn’t stop a minute, every time I go to a new restaurant or a different city I come back buzzing with ideas – more about that later;)
We were seated straight away due to being “delayed” so unfortunately there was no time for an aperitivo at the bar and we were handed a very simple one page menu divided into the usual antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci!! We were dining with my sister and her partner so I was looking forward to trying every one’s dishes – yes I am one of those:) Myself and Bru decided to pass on the antipasti as we both spotted “risotto al Barolo e Castelmagno” which we had seen Giorgio make on the Market Kitchen a while back so we both opted for that to start, they informed us it would take 20-25 mins but that suited us perfect as we were munching on the tastiest parmesan grissini and a basket of bread with home-made focaccia accompanied by some excellent Tuscan olive oil for dipping so they could have taken an hour for all we cared!! When the risotto arrived it was served with a spoon of barolo on top which the waiter then drizzled over the risotto at the table which was a really nice touch even though I got the new boy with the shaky hand of course:). The risotto itself was cooked perfectly with a lovely bite to the rice, lots of flavour from the barolo wine which I love anyway and then a really strong salty flavour from the castelmango cheese which is like a small, young, semi-hard parmesan cheese. My sister opted for the scallops with a saffron vinaigrette served on a celeriac puree which were absolutely devine, they just melted in the mouth. The beef carpaccio served with rocket and parmesan shavings was the best I have ever tasted, the quality of the beef was amazing, it was so tender and full of flavour.
Expectation was high for the mains and we had chosen a variety of dishes so we could get a real taste of the menu, Bruno chose the rabbit wrapped in parma ham and served with polenta which was delicious, I went for the stuffed sardines served with a fennel salad which I loved, it was light and full of flavour after my risotto. I have to say the winning dish had to be the oven roasted rump steak, it was the most amazing piece of meat I have ever tasted. It was cooked perfectly rare and had been infused with rosemary, I have never seen a piece of meat so tender, it really was like cutting through butter, we probably spent the whole meal discussing how good it was. I’ll never be happy eating a piece of steak again:) Us ladies passed on dessert as we were just too full but the boys had a marsala zabaliogne and a chocolate fondant which were both delicious, ladies are never too full to taste though much to the annoyance of the boys – this drives Bru mad like all men I think:) I wasn’t too fond of the grappa truffles but I don’t like grappa anyway. The biggest dissapointment if I was to try and find fault were the espressos, they were only average which we were quite surprised at, they were lacking the “crema” and definitely didn’t pass the sugar test!!
The wine list is very extensive covering the different wine regions of Italy and covering the different price ranges too, the most expensive bottle we saw was an Amarone priced at a very affordable £495 – maybe next time;) We opted for a more affordable bottle of Barbera d’Alba which was nice but nothing too special, I think the temperature probably affected the taste as it was quite cold which was surprising as they have one of those wine temperature controlled rooms. The customer at the next table complained about the temperature, he was a very “well to do” gentleman dining alone, at first I thought he may have been a food critic. I think the staff thought so too by the way they attended to him as he asked for his wine to be decanter-ed and really knew his food and wine( yes I was listening to everything). I love watching wine being decanter-ed as you never see it here, it really is a science and this guy knew how to swirl and taste it properly. He probably wasn’t too impressed by the table of Irish sitting beside him pretending not to watch but not saying a word to each other and all eyes going in the same direction!! It turned out he was some big business man from Austria( he really gave off an air of importance) but I didn’t catch anymore as my sister started speaking to me while I was eavesdropping and he had finished after she had been “shushed”:) There was no celebrity spotting to report except for one of the chefs I’ve regularly seen on Ready Steady Cook, don’t know his name though, older guy with grey hair and a tash??
We had 3 limoncellos and a mint tea to finish off even though we were quite shocked when we saw the price of the limoncellos £7 each – OMG, now that is way too expensive for a limoncello and it wasn’t served at the proper temperature either. It should be served from the freezer but it was served from the fridge, now I know this sounds fussy but at this level and that price the best is expected!! The bill came to £262 sterling for the 4 of us which I know is expensive but besides the limoncellos it was definitely worth the money, it was definitely the best meal we’ve had. The best way to describe the food is sophisticated Italian cooking but still staying true to the Italian ethos of focusing on the best ingredients. The food is served nicely but not too “fancy” and the servings are big, you definitely won’t be hungry when leaving. Afterwards we we headed back to the hotel and had a couple of g & t’s and a very contented night’s sleep:)
p.s. the pics aren’t great as I really need to invest in a new camera, me and my sony cybershot are about to part company!! I looked a bit of a twat taking the photos anyway but I didn’t care!!